My Pivotal Moment in Iceland that Eventually Set Me Free
You are faced with a situation where you are certain you’ve heard God tell you “yes.” You have bought plane tickets to a foreign country and are dropped with bombshells of old mountain hikes and skeletons you know are there immediately before departure. Do you:
Tell someone about those bombshells, repent, renounce, release, and receive; then go in peace and knowing the truth of who God says He is and who You are.
Go with full knowing that you are carrying a burden, but refuse to admit you have one and place the burdens aside for the sake of ministry.
Go through ministry mostly okay, but knowing you really aren’t, drink way too much wine one night after ministry has passed to forget the pain and disaccord that is now crushing in on you like an avalanche.
All of the above.
I think that in life, we all get tested, but the way we answer things and go about answering is our choice. I have never been the best at multiple choice testing or planning for anything that could potentially effect me long-term. I like to know when things are happening so I can choose whether or not to show up or use my time in a different way. If you ask me a question like the one exampled above, I’m gonna tell you “well, I can’t know until I experience it for myself first,” because that’s always how I’ve learned and that’s how I believe life should be experienced. I’ve never learned by getting things right, I have always learned the biggest most pivotal things in my life by making mistakes and moving forward from them.
In this question’s case though, anyone who was there could answer however they want and that might be their version of the story, which is valid and okay, but my honest answer is number 4.
This blog is my story.
I thought about it for weeks before I agreed on going. There were several factors going into it that lead me to take so long to decide in the first place. My immediate reaction was dread, if I’m being completely honest. Eventually I found a peace from God within the chaos and felt a release to go. After buying my plane tickets, I started to pray hard into situations that I knew would likely occur after having experience with missions a couple years prior. After weeks and weeks of praying every single day for the country, our team and the team in Iceland, I began to feel so much joy about what was going to happen and was beginning to feel excitement for the people we would meet at the church we were partnering with.
Read: It was easy to place the weight of what I was feeling aside for the sake of ministry. It's always easier to put it all aside than actually looking what I'm feeling in the eyes and recognizing it. I think this might be the case with everyone unless there is some supernatural human out there that came after Jesus.
There are pretty much two things I love when it comes to food and social drinking and that is pizza and wine; all things that were a part of our last night in Iceland as a celebratory hoorah. In the middle of everything going on, I chose to keep drinking the wine in front of me on the table without stopping at a point I knew I should have.
Anyone who knows the effects of alcohol knows that it can have several different effects on people. The effect alcohol has on me is highly dependent on who is actually around, level and competency of conversation, the season I am in, and my mood on the given day I am drinking. These are all factors that I was well aware of throughout the day that should have told me to refrain, yet I still chose going down the path that lead me to drinking way too much.
I woke up to the most hellish travel day I have experienced in the history of all my travel days. I was completely hungover, thirsty, and pretty much emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted, spent, and drained. In the middle of that, I apologized to our leader for placing her in the situation I had and to the home-team when we landed in Boston. But those apologies felt easy compared to the ones I was faced with making to key families and leadership within our community for the actions I deliberately chose.
My biggest fear in having to confront these people and these families was that they would judge my overall character and see me in a different light than the one I like to believe I painted. However, after the second airing, I began to realize that despite how much I hated laying some of my dirty laundry out to be seen, it was a necessary process for me to go through. A breaking down of mindset and paradigm that I lived believing for years.
The truth is that I am a sinner. But love, grace, and forgiveness of the cross covers a multitude of sin and living the truth, bringing it to light, and receiving it only ever leads to ultimate and real transformation.
The amount of time it took for this truth to actually stick after the situation occurred took me a month and a half. Despite being enveloped in a community of love, grace, and forgiveness and it being water under the bridge to literally everyone I needed to rectify the situation with, the shame of what I did stuck to me like glue. But I soon realized for myself that I didn’t have to hold onto it and that the only way I would be able to let it go would be to start telling my version of the story freely with the people who needed it. Over time, I began to think that maybe this is a story we all need to be told, because we are all sinners.
This is not meant to be negative, it’s actually meant to be very positive and uplifting, because when personal shame for what you’ve done is finally stripped away, taking ownership over it and telling the story has the capacity to set others free. By telling your personal version of any story, no one else can hold it against you when you freely begin to tell it instead of hide it away.
The biggest thing I’ve even been learning about freedom ever since Iceland is that the cushion I am backed with is love, discipline of the Father, and righteous judgment of my heart, a judgment only God can make in the end. In the grand scheme of everything, that is all that matters, and having to retell and share this story has been hard, but the reward from heaven is that even something bad as this can be turned into good if it glorifies Him and helps just one person find what they might be looking for.